Saturday, May 03, 2008

Flight of a lifetime

This article was written on request by my cousin Deepa (who just finished her 10th grade) about her observations on her first flight experience. I was just amazed by the maturity in her thinking. Wanted to share it with all of you. Here it goes :

FLIGHT OF A LIFETIME

A journey by air is an enriching experience. There are numerous instances of parallelism between a plane journey and the journey of life in general and of a career in particular. Every physical aspect of the plane journey brings to light a deeper, symbolic aspect of life.

First the plane moves slowly over the ground until it reaches the clear runway. At this point, it neither sees nor is seen by the world. Similarly, the beginning of a venture does not show us the destination in its true colours. We must not lose heart and move forward patiently.

At the right time, the plane gathers speed and takes off. In the same way, anyone who perseveres eventually takes off in life. While taking off, the noise made by the engine increases and the plane is inclined at an angle,causing discomfort to the passengers. A drop in atmospheric pressure may also cause ear-ache. All these stand for the trials and tribulations everyone must face, in one way or the other, on the way to the top. Moreover, the horizon disappears into a haze. Likewise, There is no clear demarcation between low and high, Between failure and success. A lot depends on people's perception.

Once the plane reaches its optimum height, the going becomes smoother. Similarly, on reaching the optimum height in life, the hurdles appear to lessen and a sort of uniformity sets in. However, along with the pleasures of success, the risks of failure are also proportionately magnified, just as the impact of a fall becomes more profound as we scale greater heights in a plane. One of the perks of being a celebrity! Also, the skies pose their share of obstacles in the form of clouds, gales or other weather-associated hazards. Likewise, there will be minor hitches in every success story. The heights of fame and success breed negative emotions like envy and even hatred. Controversies are a part and parcel of the lives of celebrities. It is imperative to remember that like the clouds, all rough patches in life shall come to pass.

Another binding factor between a flight and life is our perception of it's speed. While looking down from above, the world seems to crawl at a snail's pace, whereas in reality, the plane is whizzing by at a phenomenal speed. In the same way, while the successful phase of life is on, it appears as though the phase stretches on infinitely before us, but in fact, it is short -lived.

Finally comes the destination. Before the plane takes off, all that is known about the destination is what is heard or seen virtually. In the same way, we cannot have a real picture of our destination at the start of the journey. Once at the top the wide world is spread before our eyes. But the higher we go, the less detail is visible. It is important to have gathered sufficient knowledge beforehand to be able to recognise the destination with the minimal features visible from above in order to guide the plane or ourselves safaly to it.

Further, a plane journey reminds us that we eventually have to land. Just like taking off, landing will be a rough patch too. It will be especially difficult to come back to the ground for good after experiencing the splendour and exhilaration of heights, which would have taken us to new heights as a person. The summit within lies in accepting this basic principle of human nature - transcience. With this maturity, we can keep the landing too gradual and smooth and return to our roots with grace.

Perhaps the most relevant point of parallelism between a journey by plane and life is the risk involved. It cannot be otherwise. Like alternative landing sites for planes, we too need to keep alternative options in life so that if things come crashing down, we still have straws to clutch on to. Just as a plane journey is controlled by a control panel, so too is our life by the divine power, whom we call God. As passengers need to have faith on the control panel, we too need to have faith on God to successfully go through the journey of life. Where there is faith there is no fear.

In addition, passengers need to be aware of safety measures to respond effectively in case of any untoward situation. The more the passengers are in touch with the control panel, the more safe and secure they will feel. Likewise, we need to keep in touch with God for a sense of security and well-being.

The following quotation would be an appropriate conclusion:

"Success is a journey, not a destination."